You're looking at a Gypsum mine in Gypsum, Colorado. I created this work to address American Gypsum's improper mining practice. Since creating this work, I've handed out informative pamphlets educating the town of pollutants from the mine which seep into the soil and enter both; the Colorado River and their community park lake. This work has only been privately collected. Limited editions remain.
An inside look at Gypsum and the work Vaticinate:
Behind the scenes of the work:
The American Gypsum site is surrounded by massive machine made piles of earth and remains hidden from most sides. After seeing the site on a cell phone photo I was struck initially by sheer curiosity though upon climbing atop one side the next six weeks of my life were spent creating this work.
Initially trespassing seemed harmless. I was far and hidden, just simply observing. I would hike into the town and traverse the earth fence before sunrise and nestle myself into a discreet position to study this other world.
Naturally, I became more curious and began entering the site at night. The areas terrain was in constant motion and changed weekly if not daily. Large piles of rubble made navigating the space in total darkness perplexing. I'd often become lost for hours.
As weeks went by each visit had me feeling both inspired and defeated. I had this vision but no way to execute. I would dream of it and so obsession arose.
Then, perhaps from carelessness or bad luck, my presence became noticed and the mines security increased. Lazy patrol cars became more frequent as their numbers doubled. I felt cornered and my window of opportunity was quickly fading.
So what became my last attempt; with the towel nearly thrown in, I discovered mountain lion tracks near mine. The strange feeling of being stalked earlier that night became a reality. Any fear of being caught had been completely erased and this was it.
While testing stable ground near the works main island platform, I slipped and quickly sunk into the silk gypsum Earth. It was like hyper quicksand. With toxic waters all around me at the last moment my shovel struck hardened ground. Soaked and shivering, on my hands and knees I begged for air that was so cold it burned. I had to leave or freeze.
Defeat like this was dreadful. I exited in plain sight, crossed streets and moved through private lands uncaring for anything or anyone. As I looked to locate my van a blue sheet of trash moved across the land like an awkward tumbleweed. As I moved closer to this unknown object I realized it was a thick and dense sheet of styrofoam. I quickly grabbed it and stood in amazement and with that found piece of trash, I was able to create this work.
About the site:
The town of Gypsum, Colorado has just under 7,000 people and is roughly the same size as the adjacent town of Eagle, a handful of miles east. Both towns share a common ground to the large plant: American Gypsum, the areas largest employer. Gypsum is a mineral that comes from the Earth and is primarily mined for drywall and joint compound manufacturing with American Gypsum being a large U.S. producer.
Currently, American Gypsum is looking to expand its interests and break open a new mine near its current site in Gypsum. Its practices, like all other mining companies are subject to EPA standards. It has been shut down numerous times for unsafe practices and re-opened under a new name over the years.
The size of this plant and the natural abundance of gypsum in the area is remarkable to see. The town and its people are not only subject to these mishaps and malpractices like toxins entering their drinking water and fishing ponds, but the Colorado river, a major waterway runs 50 meters North of the site. How we treat our Earth is how we face our future...
Thank-you Matt Colaizzo for your support, shovel toss and process photos. Watching the sun change upon that landscape I'll never forget.